There are 60 or more trees in Britain that are native, meaning tree species, subspecies or hybrids that have established themselves without the hand of man. Yet only 35 are widespread meaning that the palette is actually quite limited, particularly when the full range of benefits from woodlands are considered, together with threats from environmental change.
Planting more of the same ‘native woodlands’ that now litter the English countryside with little more ambition in their creation and management than a membership publicity drive or community engagement excercise, will be regretted long after the PR-masters behind them have past. In their own way, these are as regrettable as the dark satanic rows of conifers that were planted sixty years ago.
If we continue to plant green fuzz across our food-producing fields, with little concern either for the impending need to be more self-sufficient in food production, or for the need to reduce our enormous reliance on timber imports, Britain’s environmental credibility will be increasingly undermined.
We must ensure that our trees, woodlands and forests are resiliant to increasing threats from pests and diseases, and will thrive with climate change. A fantastic online resource has been created listing 60 species that will help us meet these challenges.